Amazon Creates New Shopping Experience with Cashier-less Stores

Laura BednarCybersecurity and Vulnerabilities

Amazon Cashier-less Stores

The question of “paper or plastic” was the first part of the retail process to go, but now the entire cashier and check-out model may be obsolete. Amazon created a new “cashier-less” convenient store in which a customer walks in, chooses their items, and leaves without even standing in a line. By using an app or credit card, people can grab their groceries and dash. While this saves time, there may also be some security risks that come with this new way to shop.

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Supermarket Sweep in the Digital Age

Amazon introduced the idea of cashless and check-out-free convenience stores two years ago in a few locations in the US. Shoppers downloaded the Amazon Go app and entered the store using the QR Code on their phone. They then chose the items they wanted and walked out. The store itself tracks items the person has chosen and bills them through the app.

The future locations for these stores, known as “Just Walk Out,” will not require the use of the app, but will require a customer to insert their credit card before entering. Their credit card is then billed based on the items they pick up. Amazon Vice President of Physical Retail and Technology, Dilip Kuzmar, said the store allows for people to conveniently shop in physical locations because they are pressed for time.

Security Risks of Having No Checkout

The underlying problem in all of this automation is that Amazon is the supplier of this cashier-less technology. They sell the technology to be incorporated into new stores or fitted into existing spaces and install it themselves. Amazon claims the only information they collect is what they need to provide shoppers with an accurate receipt.

However, there was no mention of how it may be used. Amazon’s privacy policy for their website states that the company may use personal information for advertising, recommending features, and for communication purposes among other uses. The policy continues saying they share personal information in instances of:

  • Transactions involving third parties
  • Third-party service providers
  • Business transfers
  • Protection of Amazon and others

Having data on file of the types of food people chose to buy as well as their credit card number is enough information to warrant a privacy policy of some type. Knowing more about the items you purchase results in more advertising, and credit card numbers are the first thing to be exposed if Amazon or the store that uses the technology is hit with a data breach.

Director of Forensics for Secure Forensics, Allan Buxton, said, “It’s a petri dish for Amazon to study shopping patterns including browsing, how people move through the store and what else they do while shopping. It’s all quantifiable with that system.”

Just Walk Out Stores are Expanding

While the original stores from 2018 were convenient-type stores, Amazon has expanded these Just Walk Out into cities like San Francisco, New York City, and Seattle. Just last month, Amazon launched a “Go Supermarket” that offered the same technology to a larger store and visitors did a weekly shopping trip instead of picking up a few choice items. They plan to sell this technology at airports and smaller companies before offering it to large retail chains like Target or Walmart.

In a world where digital convenience is rapidly growing, the security risks follow soon after. Secure Forensics employs certified examiners with years of experience to find digital evidence of cybercrime. Whether your phone was hacked, your company experienced a data breach or any other type of digital security incident, Secure Forensics can help. Learn more about our services and how we create court-admissible documents of digital evidence by calling 1-800-288-1407.